Balloons, flowers and candles still sit outside the intersection in Forest City where 7-year-old Aaliyah Norris was shot last Tuesday.
“My innocent child had nothing to do with nothing,” Aaliyah’s mother Breanna Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter and Aaliyah’s stepfather, Casey Emmanuel Briggs, on Monday recalled the moments leading up to what was one of the worst days of their lives.
“We was riding down the road, and you don’t ever think of nothing like that,” Briggs said.
“It was just like a regular day and she got ice cream and it just happened,” Ledbetter added.
As they were riding in the car together, Briggs said they looked out and saw a man pointing a gun at them.
“I’m like, ‘Oh no. He’s shooting.’ By that time, I tried to jump on Aaliyah and I threw my hand up. Our car stopped, and that’s when a bullet came through the car window and just hit me and stuff,” Briggs said.
The bullet hit Briggs in the hand and then it hit Aaliyah in the head.
“The one thing I remember my baby saying was, ‘Ow, ow, ow, ow,’” Ledbetter said.
When police, fire and EMS arrived, Aaliyah was rushed to the hospital, where she died.
Now, almost a week later, a pink sign that reads "Justice for Aaliyah" stands tall in the family's front yard.
“I don’t even know the words to say. I just miss her so much. Like, it’s been hard. It’s been hard on everybody,” Ledbetter said.
The family said one of the few things getting them through all of this are the memories of Aaliyah and the fun times they shared.
“She was always, always happy,” Ledbetter said. “She loved to go swimming. She had a pool at home.”
“We used to have rap battles. She talked, [and] she would pick on you. She was funny. She was one of kind -- I’ll tell you that much,” Briggs said.
Although Ledbetter knows she'll never get her baby back, she hopes people in this community will take this message to heart, as she prepares to bury her 7-year-old daughter.
“Y’all out here just having violence for no reason,” Ledbetter said. “I’m scared. Like, everything just makes you scared now because I don’t wanna lose my other kids. But the violence has to stop. Has to stop. Has to.”
Because of COVID-19, there will be a drive-through visitation for Aaliyah from 6-8 p.m. Monday at Harrelson Funeral Home. The funeral will be Tuesday afternoon at Crestview Baptist Church.
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